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Valley Fire Serves As Reminder That Wildfire Devastation Isn't Isolated To Forests

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — From the Butte Fire and the Rim Fire in rural areas, to the Valley fire and 49 Fire in more suburban areas, wildfires don't discriminate where they burn.

Any home near dry vegetation is at risk for fire, but Cal Fire maps show a higher risk in some areas, and not just in forested areas.

Cal Fire says the Valley Fire in Lake, Solano and Napa counties will go down as one of the most destructive fires in a decade and a true wildland urban interface emergency.

"Middletown is a prime example," said spokesman Daniel Berlant. "This fire started in the mountains off of Cobb, it quickly raced out of the mountain down into an area that would be considered a more urbanized area."

Many were shocked to see the fire could jump into an urbanized area.

"Just because you're in a subdivision doesn't mean they don't have fire risk," he said.

Cal Fire has maps detailing fire risk in counties where they have authority. Towns in the woods are colored red for a high fire risk, but so are places miles from the forest such as Cameron Park and Shingle Springs.

Carolee Champlin lives in El Dorado Hills, which has parts that are considered high risk. She makes sure her home has fire breaks and she's always ready for an emergency.

"El Dorado County set up a system so that everyone's contact information, cellphones, everything are in place," she said.

But that may not be enough to protect. Vegetation, wind patterns and house proximity are all considered when Cal Fire makes a risk map.

Berlant says even though you are miles away from trees, the threat could easily come your way when burning embers are carried long distances by the wind.

"They just rain down on these homes and even though they are in a subdivision, and maybe they have good clearance around them, they have grass and landscaped trees, those embers land on the homes and catch the homes on fire," he said.

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